It is most appropriate that the vision and ideals of James Heslam should be celebrated as he requested here in the City of Lincoln.
Although James Reginald Heslam was born in Lincoln he became a wealthy businessman in the town of Scunthorpe where he owned a successful furniture, upholstery and fabric shop, Heslam House. He lived in a double fronted house on Park Street, Winterton and was a member of Winterton Methodist Chapel where he worshiped. Always referred to as ‘Mr Heslam’, he was a deeply religious man; tall, upright and a distinguished gentleman. He was married but had no children of his own. He was Chair of the Hospital Board, Chair of the Magistrates Bench and set up Charities to do with sport, the youth and for people in need who lived in the Scunthorpe area.
Mr Heslam always retained his affection for and association with his native city and in July 1963 he set up a charitable trust with substantial endowments to ensure his ambitions would continue long into the future. His generous actions almost fifty years ago have had a significant impact on the city by creating a unique collection of works of art for the benefit of the citizens of Lincoln.
The diversity of the collection also owes its richness to the terms of the bequest by directing the trustees to expend income:‘In the purchase of such pictures, prints, sculptures, books, manuscripts, works of art or other chattels as the trustees shall consider to be of national, scientific, historic or artistic interest or of interest by virtue of some association or connection with the city of Lincoln’.
The generosity of his gift is unequalled in Lincoln in the last hundred years and he would certainly be proud today to see the rich diversity of the collection which he caused to be possible. The future of the Trust is secured by sound investments which annually produce the income to purchase new work. In addition, and at his bequest, every seventh year the Trustees pay the income, not otherwise spent under the main objects of the Trust, to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln Cathedral as a contribution to the Fabric Fund.
This book and the works of art it contains, together with the different places around the City which have been designed or created to celebrate other artistic achievement stand as a lasting testimony to James Heslam. He was a man who fervently believed that through the experiences of the arts came the enrichment of both the mind and the spirit.